After nearly two years we were finally able to bring home our daughter. Welcome home Anastasia Bailey Joy! This adoption is complete but life as an adoptive parent has just begun!
Family at Last
If you haven’t kept up with our journey, check out some of my other posts that follow our adoption:
On September 20th we flew out of the country to Ukraine. After arriving in Kiev on September 21st, Bodie an I were picked up ( following our Covid testing at the airport) and drove five hours to a region on the eastern side of the country. Our facilitator checked us into a hotel and we slept as much as we could after going through the time change. Here’s a little more of the story…
Adapted from my Journal:
“After being picked up at the airport, we went to Sumy and arrived at 7:30. This finished off our last trip. We slept until 4:30 AM. and then the day started. Our facilitator worked on going back and forth between passport offices. We signed things and then continued to the next place.
About noon Our driver dropped us off at the orphanage where a lawyer would take us to empty Anastasia’s bank account into the orphanage as a donation (special needs orphans often get money in their bank account from the state that they may retrieve when of age. When adopting, it’s common to give the account -often very little- back to the orphanage.
The driver was a man in his 70’s or so. He drove an old car with no seatbelts in the back. The car smelled of smoke and it reminded me of what Europe must’ve been like 50 years ago. He was a crazy driver and more than once on that ride we were nervous.
When we got back to the orphanage about 2 PM. we were told Anastasia was napping and then given tea, coffee, and cookies to enjoy. The orphanage was and old building and the smell was cement mixed with old carpet. It didn’t “feel” bad but whenever we were around the children it was apparent that as good as they could do would never replace the need these kids have for family.
Seeing our Girl
Anastasia woke up early. The director said she must’ve felt or known something was happening because all the other children napped normally. We sat and played for some time until it was time for us to eat and her as well. We hadn’t had a meal since breakfast so real food sounded wonderful.
At the restaurant we waited for a call from the passport office. Our paper needed the signature of an official who happened to be in meetings with Government from Kiev. We were told the passport stamping process usually takes three days to a week but our facilitator explained that we’d already checked out of the hotel and THIS signature was all we needed to pick up our girl.
I prayed and felt the urge to keep praying. Seconds after I ended my prayers at that table the phone call came: the paper had been signed!”
Picking up our Girl
We cruised over to pick up the paper and then headed back to the orphanage. Anastasia was happy to see us and excited for whatever was happening. She could tell it was big. She waved to the nannies and other children and clung to her new mamma with all her might.
toddlers gave a chaotic farewell, following us as we brought her through those doors for the last time.”
Our little girl beamed to see her “Mamma and Papa” again and was ready go to her new family. I brought in clothing for her and the nanny quickly changed her into the “going away outfit.”
I later found a worn undershirt beneath her brand new clothes. That was the one item she brought with her from her first life. Nearly three years and all to show for it was a worn undershirt that had most likely been shared with dozens of children!
The one thing I regret is not buying her anti-nausea medicine for our drive home. I was quickly initiated into my new role as mother. I found myself trying to catch vomit just an hour later. Five hours later we were back in the capitol of Kiev and checking into our apartment. Three hours later ( at 3 something in the morning) I was finally able to get her to sleep and find some rest myself.
The “speed of light” pace our final adoption trip began with, continued. The next morning we were picked up for an 8 AM medical appointment. Two days later there was an embassy appointment and it looked like we’d be going home soon.
We had prayed that Anastasia would be home in September and she finally arrived in our big yellow house on September 27th!
Welcome home: Anastasia’s View
When a child comes into the world they have no history with Mom and dad, brothers, bad and good, living conditions etc. Their normal lifestyle is slowing created as the days go by.
For Anastasia, life meant sleeping in a crib with 25 other babies in the room. It meant not being answered amidst cries in the day and perhaps an eerie silence during naps and night as it’s common for babies to learn to be silent when no one answers. It’s common for orphanage’s sleeping areas to be disturbingly silent as the children no longer try to cry for comfort from an adult.
Anastasia had never been in a car seat. Never seen a kitchen or been in a house. Never walked in a crowded park or listened to a band play their music. Her beautiful Country of Ukraine was foreign to her except for the language she spoke.
The first days with Dad and Mom were wonderful and so so scary. Anastasia clung to mom and, though she enjoyed playing with “Papa,” she wouldn’t let him hold her at all. She soon made it very clear that she didn’t trust “Papa” and if he had to hold her for a second while mom went to the bathroom or put her coat on Anastasia would break down and then taunt him when she was returned to Mom.
It was difficult knowing how exactly to respond. We knew she was traumatized by all the newness. For Mom it was difficult because their was no break. If Anastasia was on the floor in the apartment, and mom was present, things were ok. Often though, she wanted mom to hold her.
When the slightest change was about to happen, anxiety set in, Anastasia once again pushed Bodie away and clung to Me like there was no tomorrow. No food by myself, no bathroom break and very stressful outings.
I watched her take some tasty raspberries handed to her and begin to eat them. I could tell she just loved them. When she came to the last two berries, Anastasia began to tear them in half, eat one half and then tear them in half again until there was next to nothing. For the first time, the concept of “more food” came into her life. She got more raspberries and then even more!
There is trauma when going from one life to another, even when you’re arriving at the better life. There is anxiety, loss, grief, sleep issues, behavior that tries to take control of anything possible. Adoption is beautiful but it is also hard. Incredibly hard.
Flying home was one of the worst days. Anastasia’s eyes grew wide in terror and her body shook as shrieking cries came out for the first hour and a half of the plane ride. She became soaked in sweat. We were more than tired when we arrived home. We were shaken.
The next morning our boys walked through the door so excited to meet their new sister. “She’s so cute!” was declared over and over. They had no understanding of her behavior difficulties. They accepted her like an innocent child accepts any sibling they love. She was theirs and they’d been waiting for a long time!
Life is not easy as an adoptive parent. It’s incredibly hard. Harder than bringing home any of my babies. It’s a new experience for all of us but day by day we get to see Anastasia bond. Her anxiety continues to lessen and her sleep S.L.O.W.L.Y gets better. I’m still waiting to sleep through the night but those days will come.
It’s so wonderful to be able to look back and see that we are not where we were on those first nights with our daughter and she is not where she’s been for the first years of her precious life. She’s learning to Trust and learning to be loved. The miracle is that her hurts can be healed. It takes time and consistent grace. We are her with you sweet girl and you are FINALLY here with us! Welcome home Anastasia!
From the Hilltop,
P.S. There are so many children waiting for loving families ( many in horrible living conditions) on reecesrainbow.org